Michigan Summer Family Vacation Hot Spots

As summer approaches, parents struggle with figuring out how to get their kids to disconnect from online life and experience the great outdoors. With an average of six months without leaves on the trees here in Michigan (and the most number of cloudy days next to Seattle), we have to take advantage of every sunny day. Take those phones away and try one of these excursions!

1. Camp on the Beach

Fisherman’s Island State Park is located in Boyne City, just south of Charlevoix. Fisherman’s Island not an island, but a peninsula where you can camp right on the beach. With 75 campsites on approximately 2,678 acres, you can find that peace and quiet you are looking for. Not all campsites are on the beach, however, so book your campsite early. www.midnrreservations.com or 1-800-44PARKS Twelvemile

2. Beach in Grand Marais

The campground has 36 sites that are situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. You can watch the freighters sailing by, and rumor has it that the campsite rings a bell to let you know one is approaching. Generally, campsites are first-come-first-served, so arrive early and have a backup plan just in case.

Usually, there is no cell phone service, so bring that map and follow all postings about fires at your campsite. Smoky the Bear demands this. Alger Co. Rd H-58, PO Box 399, Grand Marais, MI 49839. 1-906-387-3700.

3. Kayak or Canoe with Heavner Canoe Rental at Proud Lake

Paddle under the moonlight (or during the day) as you canoe on the Huron River through the lush wilderness.  The current is gentle and you can see all sorts of fish and waterfowl. There is even camping available as part of Heavner’s multiday program, which includes expert instruction, a river trip, and overnight camping. 2775 Garden Rd, Milford, MI 48381 or call 248-685-2379. https://heavnercanoe.com/

4. Hike at Bald Mountain Recreation Area

Bald Mountain’s fifteen miles of hiking and biking trails abound with some of the steepest hills and rugged terrain found in southeastern Michigan. They are sure to entertain the outdoorsman all day, but don’t fret—these trails are great for novice (i.e., kids) and the expert alike. Trout streams and several lakes teem with fish, and there are two rustic cabins available for rent. Tent camping is not available, however, and be sure to book early to get a cabin. This year Bald Mountain is one of four Michigan State Parks that feature a waterpark for daytime frolicking with the kiddos after a hot day of walking the trails.  1330 E. Greenshield Road,

Lake Orion, MI 48360-2307. 1-800-447-2757. www.Michigandnr.com

5. Visit Frederik Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens boasts everything from a tropical conservatory to a carnivorous plant house. Who doesn’t love a meat-eating plant? Many other types of gardens abound, from an arid garden, a Japanese garden, and a farm garden. During the spring, they boast a butterfly exhibit with thousands of butterflies. There’s truly something for everyone in one of the most beautiful gardens in the country. 1000 East Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525. (888) 957-1580. https://www.meijergardens.org/

6. Walk the Lavender Labyrinth at Cherry Point Farm and Market

Shades of purple abound at Cherry Point Farm as the intoxicating and soothing scent of lavender floats in the air. The labyrinth is in an ancient spiral pattern, and walking a labyrinth has been used for centuries as a tool for meditation and relaxation. The labyrinth is a continuous circuit so you won’t get lost while navigating the path, and the “hedges” are usually less than two feet tall. Even the littlest child won’t feel overwhelmed, and keeping track of those little devils is easy peasy. An herb garden awaits you at the center of the labyrinth, surrounded by a stacked stone circle.

The lavender blooms in mid- to late-July, but the color will last into early August, so the experience is short-lived but well worth it! 9600 W. Buchanan Road. Shelby, Michigan USA 49455. http://www.cherrypointmarket.net/ 231-861-2029

7. Waterfalls Road Trip in the U.P.

This road trip can be done in under 8 hours, but if running around like a chicken with its head cut off isn’t your cup of tea, maybe plan on taking a few overnights. Many of these waterfalls are in the national forest, close to the beach or hiking trails. Start off your trip at Michigan’s famous Tahquamenon Falls State Park. From there the trip takes you to Sable Falls, Miners Falls, Munising Falls, Bond Falls, Manido Falls, Manabezho Falls, Gabbro Falls and ends at Potawatomi Falls. So many waterfalls, so little time! Don’t forget that cellphone and internet reception is spotty in the U.P., so be sure to buy a map beforehand. If you want to plan your trip, an interactive Google map with the location of each of the falls is available at https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/michigan/weekend-waterfall-itinerary-mi/

Published Kudos magazine 5.3

By Hope Crenshaw